Miss speeches of former Union Minister George Fernandes now, says LK Advani

NEW DELHI: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday said that he missed the speeches of former Union Minister and anti-Emergency crusader George Fernandes in Parliament.

Mr Advani’s observation came as he, along with veteran socialist leader Sharad Yadav, launched a website publishing articles and write ups on George Fernandes by his close associates, on the occasion of the latter’s 88th birthday.

Mr Fernandes, who served as the Defence Minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpyee between 1998 and 2004, has been crippled by Alzheimer’s disease, and his last stint as a Parliamentarian was as a Rajya Sabha MP between August 2009 to July 2010.

“Geroge has done a great service to the nation. I always remember his speeches and miss them now,” Mr Advani said, adding that he was surprised by the fact that Mr Fernandes had command over 10 languages.

A native of Mangaluru, Mr Fernandes is the founder of the Samata Party. He rose to fame as an anti-Emergency crusader and civil rights activists and served as a Union Minister in the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai that came to power in 1977 to 1980.

Mr Fernandes stepped down as the Defence Minister in 2004 after the “coffingate” scandal broke out. He was later absolved by two commissions of inquiry.

Mr Fernandes’ wife Leila Kabir said that the disease had affected Mr Fernandes’ sharp brain, that he could no longer tell his own story.

“George is very much alive, but not there to tell his story, since the disease has devoured his sharp brain,” Ms Kabir said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too took to Twitter to greet the socialist leader on his 88th birthday. Both leaders lauded Mr Fernandes’ contribution in the public life.

The website has been designed by media personality VK Cherian